Valentino Rossi explains why he won’t race VR46 Ducati in 2022 MotoGP

Valentino Rossi says VR46 Racing Ducati 'offered a lot' to secure his talents for the 2022 MotoGP season but says he needed 'two or three years' 

Valentino Rossi, Luca Marini

Valentino Rossi says he opted against headlining his own VR46 Racing Ducati team for its inaugural MotoGP season in 2022 because he felt he wouldn’t be able to make enough of an impact over just a single season.

Ahead of this weekend’s Styria MotoGP, Rossi - a seven-time 500GP/MotoGP World Champion and 89-time race winner - confirmed he will be hanging up his motorcycle leathers at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season after 25 years on the international stage.

It ends months of speculation as to whether ‘The Doctor’ would call an end to his career, remain with the Petronas SRT Yamaha squad or - more intriguingly - join forces with his own VR46 Racing team for its first season in the premier class in 2022.

Evolving from the VR46 Rider Academy, VR46 Racing was created to nurture fresh Italian talent in Moto3 and Moto2, with its roll-call of youngsters including factory Ducati rider Pecco Bagnaia (Champion in 2018) and Avintia Ducati rider Luca Marini.

Though Rossi has always been reluctant to suggest he could race with his eponymous outfit, there had been growing momentum behind a campaign to change his mind by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, who bankrolled the team’s title sponsorship deal with Aramco.

However, Rossi says one more season of racing wouldn’t deliver the results desired because it is a new project and would require an unfavourable switch to Ducati machinery.

“I had an offer from my team for next year, they offered a lot,” he joked. “Sincerely, I think deeply to put in because I would like to race for my team, to have my bikes in Tavullia.

“I think we have a great Moto3 and Moto2 team with a lot of people that I have known for a long time, for example some mechanics that worked with me with the 250, in 1988 and 1989.

“In the end I decided not to do so for different reasons - I have to change the bike and I think it’s a good project if you have two or three years but if you just have one season, then it is more of a risk than [for] good things.

“So for this reason I decide [not to join].”

His decision is expected to pave the way for VR46 Moto2 rider Marco Bezzecchi to land the vacant Ducati seat for his first season in MotoGP, alongside Rossi’s brother Marini.